How do I pick the right size pine ceiling beams?

How to size pine beams for your new home is a common question we get from customers! So, we have decided to do an informative series to help all those homeowners out there wondering the same thing! Each week will cover a new common question that our customers ask us.

Kitchen Ceiling Beams

Why Choose Heart Pine Ceiling Beams?

You may be wondering why people are building with beams. Adding exposed pine beams serve many purposes from decorative beams to rustic, hand hewn structural beams. They provide a beautiful and interesting focal point in a room, while creating a sturdy home.

Not a fan of the rustic look? Not to worry, any company that provides you with your wood beams should be able to ship them to you fresh sawn for a more refined appearance.

But where do you find old pine beams for sale? Salvaged building materials like solid wood beams can go at a premium price. So be sure to shop around at flooring companies like Albany Woodworks to get the best quality and value for your project. 

Interested in solid wood decorative ceiling beams?

Download our catalog for more information. 

How to size pine beams.

This really is a great question to ask your general contractor, architect, or a company like Albany Woodworks. Their expertise will ensure that what you are envisioning is correct!

However, we believe it is just as important for the homeowner to understand the sizing process so it is a great experience for everyone involved! Whether the exposed wood beams are decorative or structural, the dimensions chosen should fit the room, i.e. what may have been placed in the building when it was built as a structural component. In other words, the real wood beams should look like they can “do the job”.

sizing your ceiling beams


In order to figure this out, there are several keys elements to consider in this decision: the height of the ceiling, a combination of the direction the beams will be placed and the length of the beams and finally, the frequency (how many will be placed in the space). It is also important to understand the terms associated with a beam. These are length, width and depth (pictured above).

The Rule of Ceiling Beams Sizes. 

So now what? Here is where expertise does come in handy but having an understanding of where your expert is coming up with his or her information is also helpful. Below are some general rules that are pretty standard when it comes to  sizing beams in heart pine.

  • The greater the frequency (number of beams being placed), the smaller (width and height) the beams can be.
  • The taller the ceiling, the deeper and wider the beam should be.
  • Long timber beams should be larger overall to maintain proper proportions.
  • Since beams typically rest in the framework of the wall, the beams needs to be approximately 8 inches longer than the inner dimension of the room (span).

The goal is nice proportion and a good aesthetic perspective. The rules and sizing also applies for hollow or faux beams that are for appearances only. Here are some sizing examples! If you have a 13 ft tall ceiling with a 20 foot span (the direction the beams will go), this room would require a minimum of an 8in W X 12in D X 20ft 8in L ceiling beams.


Now what about a smaller area like a breakfast nook or a hallway like the one pictured here? Lets say this area has a ceiling height of 8 ft and span of 12 ft. You would need a maximum of 4″ X 8″ to 6″ X 8″ beams with the length of 12ft 8in.


Faux Beams vs Reclaimed Solid Wood Beams

White washed oak beams

With so many types of wood out there, how do you know which one is the best for wood ceiling beams? There are many types of beams out there from solid wood beams, which can be reclaimed or made from new wood, to faux wood beams.

Faux wood beams are typically made from lightweight polyurethane. They may be cheaper initially but they will not have the long lasting quality that real wood beams can provide. We are firm believers in real wood for exposed ceiling beams. They will be able to provide sound structural support and beauty that will last.

If you go with solid wood beams for your kitchen, living room or any room that needs some extra character, then you can choose new growth wood for reclaimed wood beams. New growth wood will most likely be more cost effective but you need to make sure it is properly dried. New growth wood hasn’t had decades to dry and stabilize like reclaimed timber has. This can lead to warping if the structural wood beams are still too wet. 

Reclaimed wood beams are a safe bet! They were cut over a hundred years ago from dense, original growth trees. Then, they were placed in buildings to sit for decades and gain character, rustic charm and stability. Reclaimed aka antique beams are the best choice for decorative ceiling beams and structural beams in any room of the house. 


With a few details, you can achieve the home design of your dreams! Albany Woodworks has been working in the beams, flooring and building materials industry since 1976. We value working closely with customers to ensure they have a great home building experience. To find out more, about our beams for sale to be used as ceiling beams, mantles, and more, click here


  • Allen Bird

    Hi have a question if you can give me some ideas I would appreciate it have a cathedrial ceiling 12/12 pitch 26 ft wide rafters are about 20 long . This room is about 14 ft long then goes to a balcony house is a a frame . What size pine beams would look good , do you sell pine beams for this thanks.

    February 18, 2018
      • Elizabeth Soto

        Can you please help? My contractor cover a bit of the window with the beam. What shoul we do to make it better to the eye?
        I have a picture I can send. Thanks

        March 13, 2018
  • Tina

    I have a 29 X 18 foot family room in addition I have a kitchen 12 X 20 kitchen (basically one very large rectangular room. We hae two beams that are parrallel running from the family room to the end of the island. My question is for a room of this size what is your recommendcation for the size of the beam? We have some installed already but they feel too big.

    September 22, 2020
    • Hi Tina, If you would give us a call at our office (225)567-1155 we would be happy to help. Have a great day!

      October 26, 2020

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